Fugitive pair was heading to Kenya border with Mozambican guide

How Dr Nandipa and lover Thabo Bester were caught in Tanzania

Tanzania Police Force has confirmed the arrest of Thabo Bester, an escapee from a South African prison, and his partner, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, along with Mozambican national Zakaria Alberto, in Tanzania.

SACP David Misime, the Force’s spokesperson, stated that local and international legal arrangements are underway.

The arrest came after various South African online outlets reported that Bester and Dr Magudumana had been arrested in Tanzania.

Bester, who was believed to have died in a prison fire, had escaped in May last year, according to the ENCA news website.

He has been linked to several heinous crimes in South Africa, including rape and murder, and is known in some media as the ‘Facebook rapist’.

There is not a single stamp on the passports that they had when they were apprehended

At a briefing on Saturday, police minister Bheki Cele said the couple was arrested with a Mozambican who is believed to have aided them in their two-week-long run from authorities after news of Bester’s audacious escape last year from the Mangaung Correctional Centre surfaced.

“We received information last night at 10.07pm and we started working and converged today at 8am. Our forces, with the assistance of Interpol and crime intelligence, have been working on the Bester case. The people [Bester and Magudumana] were spotted leaving their hotel in a black SUV by those working on the case. They followed them and found them with a third person, a Mozambican national, and they found various passports on them,” said Cele.

The police minister said a team will be dispatched to Tanzania on Sunday to process the fugitives’ return to South Africa.

Cele said it was not yet clear what their movements had been up until they were apprehended on Friday night, “but what is certain is that their method of entering Tanzania was illegal. There is not a single stamp on the passports that they had when they were apprehended. They were 10km away from Kenya when they were arrested and it looks like they were heading for the next country.”

Explaining the difference between extradition and deportation, minister of justice and correctional services Ronald Lamola said: “That the pair were in Tanzania illegally means they will have to be deported back to South Africa.

“In Bester’s case, he was charged, tried, convicted and sentenced. He is someone who escaped from custody. The process should not be difficult in his case.”

How they were caught

Last week, South African Crime Intelligence officers allegedly tracked fugitive Thabo Bester to Tanzania, where they monitored him for a while before pouncing on Friday night.

Bester was arrested in Arusha together with Dr Nandipha Magudumana and a Mozambican national who was allegedly assisting them.

The trio were arrested following joint efforts by Interpol and the police’s Crime Intelligence Unit. It is believed they were on their way to Kenya at the time of their arrest.

Sources who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, said last week Crime Intelligence officials tracked Bester and Magudumana to Tanzania. The news of their arrest was welcomed with much jubilation.

Private security company Fidelity ADT had also been assisting the police in the hunt for the couple. Last week, CEO Wahl Bartmann put up R100 000 for information that would lead to their arrest.

Bartmann said the company received many calls, and some callers were not even interested in the reward money. “They just wanted him caught”.

He said those tips led to the identification of the vehicle the couple were using, and the Fidelity Business Intelligence Centre was able to trace the car using CCTV cameras.

According to Bartmann, the couple left the country through the Zimbabwean border and fled to Tanzania, where they were apprehended.

In a joint statement on Saturday, the police, justice and correctional services ministry said the couple were being processed and that a delegation from South Africa, comprising senior officials, would depart for Tanzania on Sunday.

During a press briefing on Saturday, Police Minister Bheki Cele said Bester and Magudumana were found in possession of multiple passports.

“None of the passports were stamped,” he said.

Cele said Bester and his accomplices were arrested 10 kilometres from the Kenyan border.